Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Do What I Say

"Of course, this is just a television poll which is not legally binding - unless Proposition 304 passes, and we all pray it will."

It’s time I, a man with a blog, weighed in on the MMP debate. Ontarians everywhere can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Suffice it to say, I reckon you ought to vote No on the referendum, and I’ll tell you why (note: almost all these points have been culled from various op-eds I’ve read in the past week or so, so don’t try and think I’m especially too clever).

1) The proposed system will lead to nothing more than a string of minority governments beholden to one-issue fringe parties elected by unhinged nutjobs from across the province. Ever drive around rural Ontario during election time and see those signs for the Family Coalition Party? Well, weirdoes like them will have a minority government by the balls under MMP.

2) If first-past-the-post is so awful, why are we still electing 90 of the 129 MPPs under MMP this way?

3) Under MMP, ridings in Ontario would increase in size. This is less of a problem in, say, downtown Toronto, but once you start heading up to Northern Ontario we start running into problems. These ridings are mind-bogglingly huge as it is, and I can hardly see how the interests of the people living in remote, isolated towns up north are going to be served by decreasing their parliamentary representation. Quite possibly, we might see them forming their own Northern Party, again feeding into the pizza parliament problem.

4) The 39 “list” MPPs – the ones elected by percentage of the popular vote who don’t represent any ridings in particular – just who selects these people? A bunch of power brokers we’ve never heard of? To who are they held responsible? What do they do from day to day, anyway? In what way could a guy who represents nobody in particular have the same authority as an MPP elected in a riding?

5) Proponents of MMP say that the system is more just, more representative of the popular vote. And, obviously, that’s correct. But should that necessarily be our prime concern? What about forming stable, long-lasting governments who can accomplish their mandate? I reckon there’s something to be said for that, too. Consider the situation outlined in my first point, where minority governments would have to answer to extreme little parties operating from the margins of society. Just what is “more fair” about this scenario, one where a little party’s influence greatly outstrips its meagre share of the popular vote?

6) Reportedly, the reason why Germany adopted MMP after the War was to assure that no one party would be able to hold absolute power ever again (you know, cause of Hitler). In other words, getting a bunch of minority governments for all time was the entire idea for the Germans. Now, I don’t see many similarities between Ontario today and post-Nazi Germany, but feel free to fill me in.

I may have taken this comparison too far

7) In some countries that use MMP, coalitions aren’t decided upon until after the election. So voting for a party whose ultimate alliance isn’t going to be known until after you’ve cast your ballot somehow leads to more transparency?

8) Listen, I’m sure the guys who came up with FPTP thought of about a million other ways to do things, but this is what they came up with. It’s lasted for hundreds of years without causing too many problems. It seems to me that the current referendum is the brainchild of a bunch of granola-munching NDP and Green voters who were fed up with their permanent minority status (fair enough). Somehow they roped McGuinty into arranging a referendum nobody else cared about, and I can’t for the life of me understand why he fell for that one. Yeah, we knew that the legislature didn’t necessarily reflect the popular vote, but I hardly heard anyone complain about it. I think it says something when everyone from the Post (right wing rag) to the Star (bulwark of modern progressivism) side with good ole, time-tested FPTP.

This Wednesday, vote to repeal Prohibition. And against MMP, too.

2 Comments:

Blogger Cameron said...

Listen, I’m sure the guys who came up with FPTP thought of about a million other ways to do things, but this is what they came up with. It’s lasted for hundreds of years without causing too many problems.

That's hardly an argument. It's like saying "Listen, I’m sure the guys who came up with Totalitarian Russia thought of about a million other ways to do things, but this is what they came up with. It’s lasted for decades without causing too many problems."

Also, sure, fringe parties will get seats. However, believe it or not, people did vote for fringe parties. Thus, fringe parties are entitled to have a say in our government. Just because you don't agree with fringe parties, doesn't make them irrelevant. When you say that the MPPs are beholden to no one, you are wrong, they are beholden to the voters who voted for them. Furthermore, since MPPS that will get voted in via "the list" will probably be from smaller parties, they will most likely be even more responsive to their constituents than those from the big two.

Also, I believe "the list" is chosen in advance and is public. So there is still transparency in that respect.

9:51 pm  
Blogger Cameron said...

I think it says something when everyone from the Post (right wing rag) to the Star (bulwark of modern progressivism) side with good ole, time-tested FPTP.

Hardly. All the papers are owned by corporate interests who benefit the most by having all the power in a single place. Thus, I would hard-pressed to use the Op-Ed pieces from any selection of papers as an indicator of "what is the right choice".

9:57 pm  

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